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NFL's Redskins open probe after 15 women allege harassment

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Washington (AFP)

The Washington Redskins launched an independent investigation on Thursday after 15 female former employees alleged they had been subjected to sexual harassment during their time at the club.

A Washington Post report said the allegations spanned a 13-year period from 2006 to 2019 and had already led to the departure of three team employees in the past week.

One of the 15 women, Emily Applegate, told the Post she had been verbally abused by a former senior executive while being ordered to wear tight-fitting clothes during meetings with clients.

Applegate added that the club had been indifferent to complaints from a female employee who alleged she had been groped by a wealthy suite holder.

Applegate, 31, was the only victim named by the Post. The 14 other women spoke on condition of anonymity citing fear of litigation as some had signed non-disclosure agreements.

Washington, which this week announced it was dropping its controversial Redskins name following pressure from sponsors, said in a statement that the team had appointed outside lawyers to investigate the allegations.

Attorneys would "conduct a thorough independent review of this entire matter and help the team set new employee standards for the future," the statement said.

"The Washington Redskins football team takes issues of employee conduct seriously," it added.

"While we do not speak to specific employee situations publicly, when new allegations of conduct are brought forward that are contrary to these policies, we address them promptly."

The Post report identified two of the recently departed Redskins employees as Larry Michael, the team's long-serving in-house radio commentator, and Alex Santos, the director of pro personnel.

Applegate described her time with the Redskins as "the most miserable experience of my life."

"And we all tolerated it, because we knew if we complained -- and they reminded us of this -- there were 1,000 people out there who would take our job in a heartbeat," she told the Post.

Team owner Dan Snyder, a polarizing figure in the NFL, was not among those executives accused of inappropriate behavior.

The allegations come two years after the Redskins were accused of exploiting the team's cheerleading squad.

The team's cheerleaders alleged they were required to pose topless during a calendar shoot in Costa Rica, while some members said they were required to escort male sponsors during a trip to a nightclub.

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